- The Inheritance
In this powerful novel, acclaimed Palestinian author Sahar Khalifeh examines the stark realities in the lives of Palestinian women. Through her protagonist, Zeynab, born to an American mother and a Palestinian father, Khalifeh illuminates the disorienting experience of living between two worlds, and the search for identity that mirrors the Palestinians’ own quest for nationhood. Set against the emotionally charged background of the early 1990s—when the Gulf War and the Oslo Accords fundamentally shifted the political landscape—The Inheritance takes as its subject the fate of young Palestinian women who supported their families for decades working elsewhere in the Middle East. In vivid prose, Khalifeh traces the disruption caused by the Gulf War on the life of these women, as Zeynab returns to her homeland and tries to adapt to her new life on the West Bank after years spent in Kuwait.
In her previous novels, Sahar Khalifeh has established herself as the premier female novelist of the Palestinian diaspora; with The Inheritance, she breaks new ground in giving voice to these Palestinian women and their return from economic exile. With its critical portrayal of the Palestinian Authority, its mistakes, and limitations, The Inheritance offers a surprising look at the realities of Palestinian life and society. As the story of an immigrant torn between two cultures and struggling to adapt to both, Zeynab’s tale touches on universal themes that will resonate with readers everywhere.
Sahar Khalifeh was born in Nablus in 1941 and is the author of eight novels, including Of Noble Origins (AUC Press, 2012) and The Image, the Icon, and the Covenant (AUC Press, 2007), for which she was awarded the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature in 2006. She holds a PhD in women’s studies and American literature from the University of Iowa. She divides her time between Amman and Nablus.
Aida Bamia is a literary translator and professor emeritus of Arabic language and literature at the University of Florida in Gainesville, where she lives.